Late winter is the perfect time to feel housebound and fat bound — and maybe you’re looking at some fat hounds snoozing around the house, too.
No wonder Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine know it’s a good time to bug you about shredding those mounds of pounds. Along with your own spring shape-up routine, it’s time to think about working off those extra hound pounds.
I hate talking about pets’ weight to clients. They don’t like it, and it’s hard to find the right tone. I don’t want to embarrass loving pet owners or make them get defensive, but I’m not doing my job if I don’t make a point that Fi-Fi is now Fat-Fi.
7 Common Excuses Vets Hear
Many people do take it seriously when they hear their pet is overweight. But before we get to a serious weight loss discussion, I often hear the isle of denial and the excuse caboose.
- He’s not that fat.
- My husband doesn’t listen to me about how much to feed.
- My wife spoils the (bleep) out of her.
- The dog just lies around all day. Of course he’s fat.
- But she doesn’t eat that much.
- So what? I mean, he’s just a dog.
- BUT SHE’S HAPPY!!!
From anger to denial, embarrassment to detachment, it seems Americans need a 12-step program to deal with obesity in their pets. Is it caused by guilt that you don’t spend enough time together? Fear that your dog won’t love you if you stop being the Cookie Monster? Or are we anthropomorphizing them into eating too much like we do?
Don’t Miss: Canine Obesity is a Serious Problem
A recent review in Clinician’s Brief outlined the top consequences of obesity in our pets, and shed light on the interesting fact that obesity affects cats somewhat differently from dogs. This article is strictly about the risks of obesity in dogs.
The top 5 possible consequences of dog obesity are:
1. Poor Quality of Life — and a Shorter Life
BCS stands for body condition score, 1 being starvation and 10 being morbidly obese.
A lifetime study of Labs found that dogs with an ideal BCS lived about 2 years longer than their overweight counterparts. The slimmer dogs also had delayed onset of chronic disease. With these facts in focus, you need to remember that ideal weight means a better and longer life. No doubt about it.
Again looking at Labs, leaner dogs had delayed onset of arthritis and less pain and lameness than heavier dogs. Even a 6 percent to 8 percent loss of body fat improved mobility and lessened lameness problems.
3. Intervertebral Disk Disease
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a sad condition that, in the worst case, can paralyze a dog. Any dog can suffer from disc disease, but long-backed breeds — the miniature dachshund is the poster pup for IVDD — are particularly susceptible.
If your doxie or corgi is even moderately overweight, the risk for a disc problem is greater. And if your dog suffers from a severe disc extrusion and undergoes surgery to correct it, dogs with a healthier weight make a faster recovery.
4. Subclinical Conditions
Subclinical conditions? What does that mean?
Basically, overweight dogs, like people, are more prone to inflammation in the body, high cholesterol and high lipids, all of which can lead to pancreatitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, etc. These problems can be brewing under the radar for years. Getting weight off an obese pet can ward off chronic, often difficult to diagnose, conditions.
Don’t Miss: How to Fit Pet Exercise Into Your Schedule
5. Breathing and Heart Problems
Obese dogs can have more trouble breathing or worsen a pre-existing condition like collapsing trachea or laryngeal paralysis. Remember the COPD commercial with the elephant sitting on the person’s chest? This is how excess weight can make our dogs feel. Obesity can also make the heart work harder.
Take-home message? Keeping excess weight off your dog makes for a better life. And fewer vet visits! I love to see my patients, but isn’t it more fun for you to go for a jog with your Rocky than bring him in to me for breathing or arthritic problems?
Next week, we’ll take a look at some common problems associated with cat obesity.
- Deborah Linder, DVM, DACVN, “Top 5 Clinical Consequences of Obesity,” Clinician’s Brief, February 2014, Vol. 12, No. 2.